With the United States stock market already showing some weakness, many investors are worried that Wall Street might follow the slumping Japanese market.
"Japan's market decline is definitely a psychological problem for Wall Street," says Larry Wachtel, a vice president with Prudential Securities Inc. "There are many relationships between the two markets, such as ties between Japanese banks and US banks. Japanese banks are intimately involved in the Tokyo stock market." Thus, Mr. Wachetel says, some Japanese banks may feel it necessary to sell off assets in the US to meet debt obligations in Japan.
Still, experts here say that direct "linkage" between the two markets is tenuous. During the past two years, for example, Japanese stocks have lost 50 percent of their value. During most of that same period, and certainly during the past year, the US market has been appreciating in value.
Starting in January, a modest downturn began in broad market indexes other than the Dow Jones industrial average - such as the Standard & Poor's 500 index - according to Gene Jay Seagle, a vice president with Gruntal and Co. "The Dow is merely catching up with the downside of the rest of the [US] market."
Computer-generated sell orders are aggravating the decline.
Mr. Seagle predicts that the market will find a "support level" around the 3,100 point range on the Dow, and, sometime this spring, once again begin an upward climb.